The cost of living in Vietnam is relatively low. In the Mercer Cost of Living survey for 2023, Hanoi ranked 156th, while Ho Chi Minh City ranked 164th out of the 227 cities surveyed.
That said, living expenses in Vietnam will differ depending on an individual's lifestyle. Many expats can enjoy a good life in Vietnam without spending a fortune. The largest dents in an expat's monthly budget will be in the areas of housing, schooling and Western foodstuffs. On the other hand, travel, phone and internet costs remain low.
Like most countries, Vietnam has its fair share of temptations, such as the huge variety of electronic gadgets that expats can spend their hard-earned salaries on. That said, with a little financial shrewdness, it's easy to live comfortably and save at the same time.
Cost of accommodation in Vietnam
The majority of expats moving to Vietnam do so on a short-term basis and therefore opt to rent property rather than buy. The cost of rent will vary depending on the standard of housing a person requires, as well as the location of the property.
Expats will find a great many modern apartment complexes in Vietnam’s bustling cities and, as a result, there are plenty of luxury accommodation options available to them. These condominiums and apartments come equipped with a range of facilities such as gyms, laundry rooms and swimming pools. Naturally, rental prices are higher.
As a rule of thumb, housing closer to the city centre comes at a premium, while accommodation in outlying suburbs is more affordable. Expats must also account for the cost of utilities in their monthly budgets, which is usually charged over and above the rental fee.
Cost of transport in Vietnam
There are plenty of cost-effective ways to get around Vietnam. Negotiating the price of taxi and motorcycle taxi fares is common practice in Vietnam, and expats should not be shy to do so.
Most expats don't drive in Vietnam due to the chaotic conditions on the city streets. Those who do wish to have a private vehicle should hire a driver who is knowledgeable about the local roads.
Cost of groceries in Vietnam
Groceries are highly affordable in Vietnam if expats shop at markets rather than large supermarkets or convenience stores. Big C is one of the most popular supermarkets in Vietnam, and it is favoured by both locals and expats. As it is a hypermarket, groceries here are more affordable than at supermarkets.
Fruit and vegetables from supermarkets are also pricier than those bought in the marketplace. As a largely vegetarian and vegan country, preparing vegetarian dishes at home will be the most affordable option for expats. Sticking to Western food and restaurants will burn a hole in one's wallet, as many of the food items or ingredients are imported and the government levies high taxes on these goods.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Vietnam
Vietnam is a food lover’s paradise. Not only are there many Western restaurants to choose from, but there is also a huge range of great local restaurants, food stalls and street vendors that cook up amazing fare for waiting customers. Eating Vietnamese food is cheap, tasty and definitely something to write home about.
For those who are looking to enjoy a regular night out, local alcohol brands will be more affordable while international brands are pricier, particularly in tourist areas and upscale bars and clubs. Vietnam has a vibrant and beautiful culture, expats can visit the Old Quarter or one of the country's many museums affordably. Karaoke bars are also popular in Vietnam. Hiking, swimming, rock climbing and canoeing are some free or low-cost activities that are available in Vietnam.
Cost of education in Vietnam
The cost of education in Vietnam varies depending on the type of education that parents pick and their location in the country. Compared to many Western countries, the cost of education in Vietnam is generally considered more affordable, especially for private and public schools. International schools in Vietnam, however, can be pricier, similar to international schools in other countries.
Expats typically enrol their children in international schools or private schools. Public schools in Vietnam are typically less expensive, but the quality of education and language of instruction may not meet the expectations of some expats. The cost of education and the type of school often depend on the individual needs and preferences of the expat family.
Cost of healthcare in Vietnam
Health insurance is essential for expats moving to Vietnam. Fortunately, most employers arrange health insurance for their employees. Public healthcare in Vietnam is largely considered inadequate, while private healthcare is excellent, accessible and largely affordable.
The cost of health insurance will depend on an expat's age, lifestyle habits and health status. The level of coverage they choose also affects the cost.
Cost of living in Vietnam chart
Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider, and the table below is based on average prices for Ho Chi Minh City in February 2024.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside city centre
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes
|Big Mac Meal
|Local beer (500ml)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and data
|Internet (uncapped – average per month)
|Utilities (average per month for standard household)
|Transport and driving
|City-centre bus fare
|Taxi (rate per km)
|Petrol (per litre)
What do expats say about living costs in Vietnam?
"Everything is cheaper in Vietnam compared to back home, except for imported food – it’s pretty much the same. But in general, life here is cheaper." Read more about Anne, a German expat, and her experience moving to and living in Vietnam.
► Find out more about Banking, Money and Taxes in Vietnam
Are you an expat living in Vietnam?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Vietnam. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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